It is the mission of The Archery Hall of Fame & Museum, Inc., to honor those Outstanding members of the Archery Community through the process of induction into its Hall of Fame.
As an integral part of its existence, the Hall seeks to preserve the history and tradition of Archery and Bowhunting for future generations.
To educate and inform those persons wishing to pursue their interests in Archery and Bowhunting, the Hall maintains and operates a museum and library in Springfield, Missouri as a repository for memorabilia, literature and research material related to the Sport of Archery for the public to view.
29th AHOF Induction
September 3rd, 2016
click to view Dinner Reservation form
***Please submit all the reservation forms to: Keith de Noble
PO Box 26144
Little Rock, AR 72221
Join us in Springfield, Missouri, at Bass Pro Shops White River Conference Center as the Archery Hall of Fame inducts Darrell Pace, 1976 & 1984 Gold Medalist, John Williams, 1972 Olympic Gold Medal Winner; Randy Ulmer, IBO and FITA World Champion, and Jack Witt, Archery promoter and writer.
To add to the evening’s excitement we are also proud to announce that Ted Nugent will be honored with the Dave Staples Golden Arrow Award of Merit. Ted will be the first recipient of this prestigious award named after the Hall of Fame founder.
Jack Preston Witt
Contributor to the Sport / Influence on the Sport
Information submitted by Keith de Noble
“Jack was a major player in getting bowhunting and archery going,” said John Heuston, retired outdoor writer. “He was a real leader and probably should be in the Archery Hall of Fame.”
Ron Powell, formerly of Ben Pearson, Inc. remembered, “He was like a second father tome. My dad was president of the company, so I worked there and had the opportunity to work with Jack on many things.”
I,too, felt as if Jack was a second father, and would not be surprised to hear others feltthe same way. My father died in
1970, just a bit under a year after I first started bowhunting. It was Jack who got me started after visiting his store, the Archery Center, on Old Cantrell Road, Little Rock, Arkansas, in September 1969. When I had left the store my wallet was thirty two dollars and change lighter but I was the proud owner of a Ben Pearson Cougar recurve, six arrows, three of which were tipped with Ben Pearson Deadhead broadheads, and the others with field points. In addition, my tackle included a Kwikee Kwiver bow quiver, an arm guard, and a shooting glove.
I was a bowhunter – rather, I thought I was a bowhunter. Through the next few years, and with Jack’s persistent influence, along with a few others, I became a bowhunter, and an archer. My story is one of hundreds, most likely thousands where Jack was involved.
“Jack and I were very close friends,” relates Bill Clements, one of the founding members of the Arkansas Bowhunters Association. “Jack’s greatest contribution to archery was his ability toget along with people, and bring them together. You couldn’t help but get along with Jack.
“Jack actually started the Arkansas Bowhunters Association (ABA). It was his idea to set up a meeting where he let us know there were clubs in other states and one was needed in Arkansas,” remembers Bill Clements. Jack was an Honorary Life Member of the ABA, and in the first class to be inducted into the ABA Hall of Fame, along with Ben Pearson, Roger Maynard, and Webster Meggs in 2000.
Hersey Nelson, who headed production at Ben Pearson, Inc. for a number of years remembers, “Jack was a real close
friend. We made several trips together where we promoted the sport.”
Clements explained, “Jack came to Ben Pearson when he saw the handwriting on the wall withthe Coca-Cola Company and realized he had gone as far as he could. He placed an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal which was noticed by Carl Haun, then president of Ben Pearson, Inc. Haun called him up for an interview. Jack was hired to handle sales and promotion of the Sovereign Division of the company.”
When Jack was interviewed by Carl Haun, he remembered, “The president of the company asked me, ‘What do you know about archery?’ Itold him, ‘Nothing.’ He said, “How do you think I can hire you to talk about archery when you don’t know anything about it?’ I asked him if he had anyone who knew archery. He said, ‘Sure.’ I said, ‘It looks to me that you can either teach me archery or teach them sales promotion.”
Nelson related how Jack did not know how to shoot a bow when he went to work for Pearson, “So, I worked with him. The string kept hitting him in the nose. I told him, ‘All you have to do is keep your nose out of the way –as I chuckled’. Jack worked hard. He was a fast learner.”
Chuckle! Jack had a unique and infectious laugh that can only be described as a chuckle. When he started he would steadily lower his head while chuckling. I presume it was his way of respecting the person while laughing at the circumstances. There were countless times I witnessed his chuckle, most as a result of my own actions or words. He used to claim he would get his 2x4 and whack me if I didn’t quit making silly shooting mistakes. He had a way of getting my attention.
“Jack was a heck of a guy,” said Harry Lindsey, former Controller of Ben Pearson, Inc. “He was a real promoter for us. The company bought a place near Mountain View that had been known as ‘The Land of the Crossbow’. We changed it to ‘The Land of the Longbow’. At the time, Ben Pearson was president of the Southern Archery Association. With Jack’s help, they organized a tournament at the location that was well attended.” Lindsey finished by saying, “Jack was a real dedicated fellow. He commuted from Little Rock to Pine Bluff every day.”
Jack was a teacher, unique in his ability and qualifications. Clements explains it well, “When I started shooting, I improved rapidly, then my scores fell back. I fought the problem for quite a while and finally called Jack. He had me come over to his house and shoot in his garage. Jack believed in shooting up close to the target. That way you didn’t worry about missing the target and you could concentrate on the shot. After watching me for a while, he chuckled that special chuckle of his and said, “You don’t have any idea what you’re doing do you? You’re peeking. You want to hit the target, know you won’t hit it, so you freeze. He fixed my problem and I started improving steadily.”
Powell related some of Jack’s influence on archery, “He helped coordinate and promote the Cobo Hall shoots in Detroit. Jack, John D. Sanders, and I drove in a company Volkswagen van to Colorado Springs to spend a week coordinating Boy Scout Jamboree shoots, exhibitions, and training. It was my most memorable experience of Jack.”
Ernie Decker is one of my closest friends, going back to high school. When I started bowhunting, he was still focused on gun deer hunting, and duck hunting with his dad. In 1971, while serving in the Arkansas National Guard, he met Major Ernest Jackson, who got him started in tournament archery. Like many, Decker purchased his equipment from the Archery Center with the help of Jack and his long-time friend and employee, Lois McMillan.
Ernie and I shot in the 1971 Arkansas Field Archery Association State Championship (AFAA) and two weeks later shot in the Arkansas State Archery Association State Championship. We had to go to the Archery Center to buy more arrows to finish the AFAA shoot on the second day. Jack got a pretty good chuckle out of that. We took plenty of arrows to the second shoot. Later that year we attended our first ABA Fall Broadhead Championship. Ernie remembers the rifts that existed between the organizations and what Jack had to say about it, “What you really need is a common enemy.” A wisdom still applicable in today’s anti-hunting environment.
Jack purchased Pearson’s Archery Center at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and moved it to Little Rock on April 1, 1968, to the first of his two locations during his ownership.
In an article written by Paul Banta that appeared in the June 7, 1979, issue of The Arkansas Gazette, Jack related the following which illustrates his good humor, “We’ll go through several thousand dozen feathers a year. Ben Pearson used two million turkeys a year to make arrows. We used to tell people that Thanksgiving and Christmas were by-products of archery.”
Gertrude Witt, affectionately known as ‘Gertie’, married Jack on September 29, 1946. “Jack was quite an artist. He painted a big van owned by Ben Pearson, Inc. that they took to Cobo Hall. When he was helping set up the ranges near Hot Springs, Arkansas, for a National Field Archery Association Championship, he suffered a severe cut on his leg from a chainsaw and spent some time in the hospital. I never knew about it until he came home after spending most of two months down there working to get ready for that shoot.
“He helped teach archery to the students at the Arkansas Blind School. I remember a big demonstration he and Ben Pearson put on at the Lafayette Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Arkansas Butane Dealers Association and Independent Oil Marketers had a convention. They were urged to shoot an apple off a person’s head. Jack respectfully declined.”
Not only was Jack a promoter, a shooter, an artist, and an avid golfer, he was also an author. His articles on the sport appeared in Japanese publications, and The Archers’ Magazine (TAM), and numerous other publications.
In the June, 1963, issue, which highlighted the Silver (25th) Anniversary of Ben Pearson, Inc., Jack’s article, “The Archery Clinic” appeared with an interesting subtitle: Problem: YOU! The article succinctly and accurately relayed how most of our shooting problems come from within. The sage advice he offered is still as pertinent today as when he penned it.
John P. Everett, editor of TAM and author of, “The World’s Largest Archery Equipment Manufacturing Plant,” about Ben Pearson, Inc. wrote this about Jack Witt, “… in Walter Maupin’s words, “always takes a good picture” and, we feel, he is as near as anyone comes to being the “picture” of an archer. Cool, calm and almost casual, he went around the field course on the last day of our visit and we were amazed, when we added up the score, to find Jack had shot a “cool” 240-plus for the 14 targets with very little fuss about it.
“Then, having finished this bit of extra-curricular activity, he sat down and just as coolly, calmly and almost casually typed out his column which appears in this issue. That’s Jack Witt. He seems to “play at his work” but we suspect he “works at his play” and, in doing so, he and his five representatives who travel the country promoting archery and the Golden Sovereign line and the Ben Pearson company have done far more for the progress of our sport and the progress of the company than can easily be measured.”
Powell summed up his thoughts, “Jack had a lot of charisma. He did a lot of great things. He promoted archery in general. Certainly, Jack was a key figure. I think he deserves to be in the Archery Hall of Fame.”
Jack Witt was born in Hope, Arkansas on December 9, 1914, and died at age 65, of multiple myeloma on September 8, 1980. Sixty-five years was too little for a man of his talent and influence, and yet, it was 65 very good years.
In the 11 years I knew Jack he had a profound influence on me. I was indeed fortunate to have had such a fine older friend, mentor, and father figure in my life. He is in my Hall of Fame.